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Character Strengths and Deep Connections Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Spiritual and Secular Pathways to Resistance Among Volunteers


Correspondence should be addressed to Amy L. Ai, College of Social Work, Florida State University, C2313 University Center, Tallahassee, FL 32306. E-mail:


This study investigated a conceptual model with two pathways, altruism and perceived spiritual support, leading to resilience among student volunteers following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (H-KR). Both strengths share the sense of deep connections. Parallel pathways with the two major constructs were estimated using structural equation modeling, adjusting for demographics and peritraumatic emotional reactions. The two indicators may have served as a protective mechanism for all volunteers despite differing racial/cultural backgrounds. The potential protection of these strength factors was mediated through optimism and hope. Resilience among minority volunteers was associated more with faith-related strengths, as indicated in the relevant pathway that also contributed to their altruistic actions. The resilience of white volunteers, however, was directly associated with altruism, a strength that does depend heavily on religious beliefs. Further, the modification index suggested a direct path from race to depression.

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